Craig Hanoch
former United Nations staff, 2005-2022

An Open Letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Dear Secretary-General Guterres:

I trust this message finds you well. Sadly, we know all too well that our many friends and loved ones in Israel and Palestine are suffering terribly, that they are hardly well. Tragically, much of their pain derives from your own failure of leadership and the destructive plague of antisemitism that infects the thoughts and actions of many UN leaders and staff. As a former UN staff member, long-time supporter of a Palestinian state, and participant in numerous peace organizations, I feel sick over the bloodshed in Gaza yet am with each passing day horrified at your support for the murderous regime in Palestine.

The recent report, “Anatomy of a Genocide” (A/HRC/55/73) by the ‘Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Francesca Albanese’, has brought the antisemitism of the United Nations to the foreground of the conflict. The report builds upon your own irresponsible remarks immediately after Hamas’s vicious attack on 7 October 2023 that the pogrom was in response to decades of occupation — rather than as Hamas itself has declared throughout their reign of terror, an attempt to destroy the Jewish state and exterminate the Jewish people — and explicitly supports the antisemitic charges of South Africa and Ireland that Israel is committing the crime of genocide against the Palestinian people.

While the Human Rights Council (HRC) suffers from a long history of antisemitic bias, one that a former secretary general, Kofi Annan, bravely denounced during his own tenure, your silence in the face of the Rapporteur’s report indicates your acceptance of its conclusions, arguments, and bias, much as your silence in response to the South African and Irish charges in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would indicate your own support for that shameful blood libel against the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

A few examples from the text of the Rapporteur’s perverse distortion of the truth should suffice to illustrate the bias that permeates her thinking and by association and assent, your own:

The Rapporteur develops in paragraphs 8–14 a wholly one-sided, heavily biased narrative of the ‘historical background’, omitting anything other than a pro forma acknowledgment of the crimes committed by Hamas on 7 October 2023. Ms Albanese eschews any mention of Israel’s past efforts to establish a Palestinian state in 1947-8, 1967, 1976, the 1990s (Oslo), and off and on during the Obama years, efforts rejected time and again by Palestinians hoping to destroy Israel and to ‘push the Jews into the sea’. With moral and political blindness, she refrains from including in ‘the context of genocide’ decades of Palestinian attacks specifically targeting Israeli civilians with the express purpose of destroying the State of Israel and exterminating its Jewish population.

Too, the Rapporteur fails to mention that Israel and Hamas had agreed to a ceasefire after the 2015 conflagration, viciously broken on the holiday of Simchas Torah, 7 October 2023, the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, or that Palestinian leadership in Hamas and the Palestinian Authority alike rejected proposals from the Quartet at that time that would have brought an end to the blockade of Gaza and a resumption of negotiations for a two-state solution that would have ended the conflict and established a Palestinian state. She mentions nowhere that Hamas, the duly elected leaders of Palestine (they won 59% of the legislative seats in the 2006 election), has planned additional massacres and has even advertised on television their intention to murder and rape more Jews in pogroms replicating the 7 October, Simchas Torah atrocities, a threat that neither the UN nor any member state ought ignore, and certainly not Israel, threats which should negate any hope that the Palestinians would honor and observe a new ceasefire any more than the one violated in October.

Ms Albanese declares with the prestige of her high-ranking position and implicitly with the backing of your own high office her perspective of a Palestinian genocide perpetrated by Israel as the end result of its purported ‘settler-colonial project’ categorically as the truth. The Rapporteur concludes her disgraceful survey in Section B. ‘Palestine and the context of genocide’ with paragraph 14’s stunning, Orwellian condemnation of Israel: “This is the historical background against which the atrocities in Gaza are unfolding.”

Dismissing Israel’s right to defend its citizens from Palestinian terror, the Rapporteur considers the death of thousands of Gazans the result not of Hamas crimes against their own people but rather ‘atrocities’ committed by Israel, a theme she hammers at throughout her report. She ignores Palestinian rocket fire at Israeli cities and towns, the years of firebombs launched over the fence, the rape of women and slaughter of children by Palestinian terrorists — crimes celebrated throughout Palestine as acts of resistance and liberation, much as Palestinians infamously celebrated 9/11 as a political act rather than terrorism — and waves away the responsibility of Hamas for embedding themselves amongst the civilian population, a clear violation of international law that nullifies many of the protections that the Geneva Convention affords noncombatants. The martyring of Palestinian civilians is not the result of Israel’s legitimate military action but of Palestinian leadership’s refusal to end hostilities, to release the hostages, and to surrender unconditionally — and ultimately to recognize and accept the State of Israel and join the family of nations in peace.

In paragraphs 50–54, the Rapporteur documents statements from Israeli officials, imputing to them a racist, ‘genocidal intent’, yet another in a long line of blood libels from the HRC and, as you, Mr. Guterres, seem to have embraced the report, by your own office and UN leadership. Taking out of context the words of leaders trying to rally their nation to defeat an adversary that has sworn death to every Jew living in the land and that has called upon the nations of the world to attack Jewish people wherever we may be found as an invocation by Israeli leaders to commit genocide should sicken you every bit as much as it sickens me, an outrage that calls for your immediate, unequivocal condemnation, lest more Israelis and Palestinians die in the war Hamas promotes as the Al-Aqsa Flood, their war to destroy the State of Israel and exterminate the Jews. If we are going to talk about the language of leaders, let us recall here the language of the founding charter of Hamas, uttered not in the heat of battle but as a statement of their deepest values and aspirations: The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.

Distorting the language of war and the right of any nation to defend itself into a charge of genocide is despicable. Even worse is that this inversion of reality threatens all peace-loving people with terrorism, with dire consequences for us all. Your acceptance of such vile charges against a sovereign state at war with a truly genocidal adversary and failure to unequivocally condemn Hamas and pressure in any meaningful way the Palestinians to release the hostages, has led to the widespread trauma of Israelis and Jews worldwide. And by so openly siding with the murderous regime in Gaza, you have condemned tens of thousands of Palestinians to death and disfigurement by encouraging them not to surrender but to instead ‘martyr’ themselves as part of the cynical plan of Hamas to delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people.

Perhaps most outrageously, in paragraph 95, the Rapporteur argues that the purported genocide of the Palestinian people began seven decades ago with the founding of the State of Israel as a ‘settler-colonial project’, echoing her remarks in “Section B: Palestine and the context of genocide,” what she calls ‘the historical background’. The Rapporteur here concludes the real line of argument of her case, that Israel has no more right to exist than any other colonial power clinging to another people’s land. The Rapporteur has revived the once-repudiated charge that ‘Zionism is Racism’, an inversion of reality and denial not only of the rights of an indigenous people, the Jews, to reclaim their homeland but an existential threat that exposes every living Jew to the murderous aims of Hamas and other Islamist terrorists.

Perhaps not ironically, this blood libel was published near the end of Lent, just ahead of Easter, a season during which Christians promoted the original blood libel accusing Jews of murdering infants and making Passover matzohs with their blood, a fanatical antisemitic charge that has led to innumerable pogroms and today stands as a metaphor for manifold conspiracy theories and accusations against the Jewish people.

I worked at the United Nations for over 17 years, from 2005–2022. We engaged in my later years in soul-searching dialogue regarding race and gender, yet time and again we refrained from any consideration of antisemitism. When I asked a facilitator of a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) workshop why antisemitism and other forms of religious bias were not included in her agenda, she replied curtly “because religion is the cause of the problem.” Your own no doubt unconscious bias and that of the leadership team today infects the entire organization — of the ‘Organisation’, as it is called internally — and today takes the form of rabid anti-Israel bias, inviting yet more violence against the State of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide.

I call upon you to choose a side and hope that you will, in the words of our teacher Moses, choose life. Life for Israelis living under the continuing threat of extermination, life for Palestinians living through unspeakable horror as their leaders refuse to surrender or even to release the hostages, a suicide cult of unprecedented proportion, and life for Jews everywhere, who today suffer the trauma of your silence amidst the rising tide of antisemitism that is sweeping our world.

And if you cannot choose life, cannot take a step back from the abyss of pain and despair that you have helped to create, I call upon you to resign with immediate effect.

Regretfully yours,
Craig Hanoch, retired staff

About the Author
Craig Hanoch is a retired staff member of the United Nations, having served in the Department of Operational Support as an information management officer in human resources management.
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